Ben Pruitt

Full-time Student, Master of Social Work & Divinty

Name: Ben Pruitt

Years as a Camper: 2000-2007

Years as a Staff Member/Positions held: 2007-2015, Junior Counselor, Senior Counselor, Trainee Coordinator, Head Counselor

Years as a Professional Staff Member/Positions held:  Management Trainee, then YMCA Teen Programs Director

Current Profession and Title/Years in role: Full-time Student, Master of Social Work and Master of Divinity 

Can you provide a brief overview of your job responsibilities?
To learn as much as possible so that when I graduate and receive licensure I can serve others to the best of my ability. I am studying to specifically serve those who have experienced trauma, spiritual trauma, mental health struggles, and queer communities. I intend on serving as a therapist and chaplain.

As Teen Director – I facilitated YMCA programs serving teens including, but not limited to Leaders Club, Youth and Government, Middle School UN, etc. During my tenure as Teen Director, I increased retention of our Leaders Club and more than doubled the teens we served, raised over $100,000 with Teens for the Annual Campaign, etc. (I am sure you can fill things in here if you need to add more.)

Do you have any career advice for members of our Camp community?
Working at camp, without a doubt, has better prepared me for living as an adult. Camp helped me realize the importance of living my values. I thrived while working for the Y and continued to learn and grow throughout my time. The Y helped me understand my strengths and passions, which leads to my advice. Go where your passion leads you, life is too short and too valuable to do something you don’t enjoy.

What do you believe have been some of your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? Is there a goal toward which you are currently working?
I believe one of my greatest personal and professional accomplishments has been choosing to return to school. I was comfortable while working at the Y and returning to school required courage. I had to spend a lot of money and wonder if it would be worth it. I am still wondering. That said, I am certainly working towards a goal of receiving my LCSW and Chaplaincy certifications that will allow me to serve others in a clinical setting. I hope to be better equipped to serve the teens that I could not serve while at the Y because their needs were outside of my scope.

How do the values or skills you learned at Camp show up in your everyday work and/or personal life?
They show up every day! Every conversation about ethics, values, people, systems of oppression, community building – my work in both graduate programs I am a part of, in other words – is rooted in my experience at camp. Camp shaped my entire outlook on the world and continues to guide my work. I could not imagine being where I am today without my time at Kanata – I believe I would be a completely different person. Camp instilled within me the value of community. My greatest friends today are from summer camp and they continue to provide me with love and guidance.

Is there a person or a situation that had a huge influence on you while you were at Camp? How and why did they/it impact you?
There are too many people and situations that had significant influences on me. One example was Damien (Damo) Bonnafeaux – who made me feel loved and cared for as a camper – he was one of the counselors that instilled the desire to want to be a counselor myself. He was my cabin counselor and we simply got along well. Forrest Perry was a mentor that still influences me today – he still invites me to coffee to learn about my life and continues to offer me support. He has, through his continued support – invited me to continue to reach out to those I have built relationships with at Camp and during my time as Teen Director. I could go on and on about the major influences on my life. I am who I am today because of Camp and the community it provided me.

What advice would you give your younger self?
You are doing exactly what you need to do – think less about where you are going and revel in the joy you are surrounded by.

Favorite Camp meal: Chicken Sandwiches – Praise all that is good for this meal.

Favorite dining hall or flagpole song: Fah-Daht-En-Chu

All-time favorite skit memory: When I was a camper, I crocheted hats for a lot of other campers and staff. I ended up being the main character in that week at Lower Lake and “clothed a nation” and “fed a nation” – it still makes me chuckle when I think about it.

Favorite evening program at Camp: Opening and Closing Campfire – I love to laugh and cry and I do both of those things at these programs.

The devotion you best remember from Camp: Some of my favorite memories came from devotions at camp. We used to do a special devotion at the end of a trainee session with all of the trainees and I just glowed with the joy of it.

If you had to have an intro song every time you walked into a room what would it be? Circle of Life – Lion King.

Do you have a hidden talent? I play piano and sing. Is that hidden?


Ben Pruitt